We continue to live in a veritable Golden Age of Spider-Man content. The character has always been incredibly popular, one of the most successful superheroes ever made, but for whatever reason the character really seems to be hitting the public consciousness like crazy lately, and in no small part thanks to his recent portrayals in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. After some tumultuous times being controlled solely by Sony, the character now essentially has split-custody with Disney and Sony, letting everyone’s favorite webhead mingle around with the most successful superhero franchise imaginable. This is actually the fifth time that we’ve seen Tom Holland as Spider-Man, which is a little mind-boggling, but only the second time that he’s gotten to take the main stage, and get a film devoted completely to his antics. Everything we’ve seen from Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has been, at least in my opinion, stellar. He’s perfectly captured what I love about the character, and has been an incredibly satisfying Peter Parker on top of his wonderful Spider-Man performance. So, of course, I was going to be excited to see this version of Spider-Man’s next foray onto the Silver Screen. But, by including one of my absolute favorite villains in the film, I was pretty sure I was going to have a great time with this movie. And, while it didn’t trigger the sort of near-religious experience that last year’s Into the Spider-Verse was able to cause, this movie is still a hell of a good time.
The film picks up shortly after the events of Avengers: Endgame, with the human race slowly trying to figure out how to continue their lives after the event that’s become known as the Blip. And, on a more personal note, Peter Parker is dealing with the fact that he saw his friend and mentor die in front of him while saving the entirety of the universe. And, that newfound stress, and the stress of people assuming that Spider-Man will now be living in Iron Man’s shadow, is causing Peter to kind of collapse in on himself. Which, is why he’s looking so forward to an upcoming class trip to Europe with several of his friends, all of whom conventionally Blipped as well. Peter plans on just having a nice time as a teenager, ignoring Spider-Man, and trying to figure out who Peter Parker is, specifically revolving around a burgeoning relationship with his crush, a girl named MJ. However, when Peter arrives in Venice he finds that the world of superheroics can’t be left behind, because a massive being made out of water forms in the famous city, and attempts to destroy it. Peter does his best to help, but finds himself out-classed by a strange new hero who he and his friends start calling Mysterio. And, on top of that, Peter is approached by Nick Fury who is looking to recruit him. Fury explains that that water being was an Elemental, a disastrous being who is trying to destroy the world, with only Mysterio to stop them. Peter’s then introduced to Quentin Beck, a man who claims to be from another reality which was destroyed by the Elementals. And, on top of all of that, Peter is given an inheritance from Tony Stark, a pair of glasses known as EDITH that can control a vast array of drones to protect the world in Stark’s absence. And, taking all of that in, Peter agrees to start helping Fury and Beck to destroy the next and final Elemental, which should arrive in Prague.
Peter suits up and goes into battle with Mysterio to attack the final, flaming Elemental, and the two are eventually able to defeat the beast. At which point, Peter is ready to make a decision. He doesn’t want the responsibility of dealing with EDITH, and decides that Beck is the perfect person to take over the mantle of Iron Man. Which, turns out to be a mistake. Because Quentin Beck is not what he seems. He’s not from another universe, he’s a former Stark employee who developed a powerful illusionary technology, and who has been behind the entire Elemental phenomena. Working with other disgruntled Stark employees Beck used his holographic technology and Stark’s drone weapons to create fake villains for his fake hero to defeat, all so he can gain access to the EDITH glasses which he plans on using for one final attack, which will essentially destroy London, and help him become the most powerful superhero in the world. And, he would have gotten away with it if MJ hadn’t been snooping on Spider-Man’s attack, finding some of the holographic technology in the process. MJ confronts Peter, and after admitting that he’s actually Spider-Man, he realizes what has happened.
There’s just one problem. Now that Mysterio has control of EDITH, he can basically do anything. Spider-Man tries to reach out to Nick Fury to tell him about Beck’s betrayal, but all he does in get Mysterio’s attention, drawing him out to a building which he traps Spider-Man in, sending him on a psychedelic trip through his illusions, attempting to break Spider-Man’s mind, and in the process is able to push Spider-Man into the path of a speeding train. Peter survives the attack though, and ends up calling Tony Stark’s right-hand man Happy Hogan to help him. Happy comes to the rescue, and Peter begins designing a new suit specifically to defeat Mysterio, while on the path to stopping him in London. Peter then arrives just in time to see Mysterio’s master plan begin, with a new monster attacking London. Peter is able to arrive just in time, and begins doing battle with the drones, destroying as many as possible, while attempting to reveal Mysterio’s plot. And, eventually, he’s able to defeat the villain, mainly by relying on his Spider-Sense to avoid the fake images in front of him, but in the process watches as Quentin dies. Peter then returns to New York, ready to live a nice life with MJ, more comfortable with his place in the world when he finds that a conspiracy theorist named J Jonah Jameson has received doctored footage that makes it look like he instigated the drone attack and killed Beck, while also revealing that Spider-Man and Peter Parker are the same person.
It’s always hard not to feel hyperbolic after watching a movie about a character that you love with your entire being, so at the moment I’m just going to say that I really enjoy Far From Home. Is it better than Homecoming? I’m not quite sure yet, I’ll probably need to more time with it, but I know that I had an absolute blast with it. It’s just another movie that shows me exactly why I love Spider-Man, all done on such a staggering scale. I love that the movie is able to remain rooted in goody highschool hijinks, relying heavily on the absolutely wonderful young cast that they were able to assemble to bring these characters to such vivid life. And, on top of all of that, we get a really great Spider-Man adventure. I know that there are some complaints that this is a film where the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is barely in his own neighborhood, and that’s certainly a bit of a bummer. I also feel like the film continues to link Spider-Man too closely to Iron Man, but I am thankful that they got him out of that god-awful Iron Spider costume as quickly as possible. But, besides those few quibbles, I had a blast with this film. Tom Holland continues to perfectly embody both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and I am absolutely blown away by how perfect this film handled Mysterio, one of my all-time favorite villains. I just can’t believe how hard they swung with this character, and the illusion fight-scene between Spider-Man and Mysterio quickly became one of the most inventive and thrilling fights in the entire MCU history. And it all comes together to create a thrilling movie that actually did serve as an epilogue to the whole story of Tony Stark and the MCU as we’ve known it.
Peter Parker is a character completely dominated by the idea of responsibility. These MCU films have wisely steered clear of using the famous phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility,” since it’s kind of been used to death, but that central ethos is still what makes Spider-Man tick. Since his first appearance he’s still been portrayed as a character who understands his responsibility in the world, and he’s continuously been shown to accept that responsibility. But, this film brings it all to a whole new level, thanks to the added burden of expectations. This is a world where Iron Man became the most famous superhero in the world. And he’s gone now. Spider-Man was essentially named his heir apparent, and thus the weight of Iron Man’s legacy has been placed squarely on Spider-Man’s shoulders. Good and bad. Peter finds himself now responsible for the entire legacy of Iron Man and Tony Stark, people expecting him to be an honorable and beloved superhero, while also having to deal with Tony’s past sins. He’s given Peter access to a massive weapon of mass destruction, and placed him in a position to deal with a group of villains who are all here because of how Stark treated them in the past. He didn’t ask for this inherited burden, but it’s his now, and he deals with it. Because that’s what being Spider-Man is all about, taking the weight of the world and making it seem easy.
Spider-Man: Far From Home was written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, directed by Jon Watts, and released by Sony Pictures Releasing, 2019.
Categories: Reel Talk